A new statue honoring civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks was unveiled in Alabama on Sunday, just steps away from the spot in which she is believed to have boarded the bus that changed history.
The unveiling of the art — which features Parks standing and clutching a purse — coincided with the 64th anniversary of her famous refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger, and subsequent arrest in Montgomery.
“This depiction will inspire future generations to make the pilgrimage to our city, to push toward the path of our righteousness, strength, courage and equality,” Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, who recently took office as the city’s first black mayor, said, according to AL.com.
Reed, along with Gov. Kay Ivey, had the honor of unveiling the statue, which was built by local artist Clydetta Fulmer and stands at the Court Street Fountain.
At least 400 people were in attendance, including Parks’ lawyer Fred Gray, as well as the plaintiffs in Browder vs. Gayle, the Supreme Court case that eventually led to the desegregation of public buses, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
The four female plaintiffs — Aurelia Browder, Claudette Colvin, Susie McDonald and Mary Louise Smith — are each honored at the site with plaques reading their names.
“For the city officials, from the city and the county, to be able to honor Mrs. Parks and honor those plaintiffs, and even more importantly to honor the 40,000 African American men and women who stayed off of the buses for 382 days, it is indeed a step in the right direction,” Gray told the Advertiser.
Parks made history on Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat in the “colored” section of the bus for a white passenger, even after the white bus driver demanded her to.
Parks later wrote in her 1992 autobiography that despite popular belief, she wasn’t physically tired that day, but “tired of giving in.”
She was arrested, tried and convicted for civil disobedience, which sparked the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling that declared bus segregation unconstitutional.
Parks died in 2005 at age 92.
“We are here to be reminded of the struggle so future generations can do better, and be better,” Ivey said, according to AL.com. “No one has ever stood so tall as did Rosa Parks when she sat down.”